'On social media, I'm often racially abused' – Akanji expresses disgust at online vitriol

The 24-year-old has become a regular for both club and country, but has been plagued by online racial abuse throughout his career

Borussia Dortmund and Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji has expressed his anger and frustration at receiving online racial abuse.

Akanji has condemned the abuse on social media, saying that it is “unbelievable” that modern-day footballers are still experiencing such issues.

On whether he has been racially abused in the past, Akanji told Blick: “Yes. Less in the Bundesliga. But on social media, I’m often racially abused. 

“It is unbelievable how some people pour out their aggression over us. Anonymous and without consequences. I’m sure they would not dare to say it in your face.

“I tried to defend myself with words.”

The 24-year-old also spoke on the racial abuse directed towards Inter’s Romelu Lukaku earlier this season, expressing his regret that such a situation can still occur in 2019.

“I have no explanation or understanding for that. Otherwise I would do something about it. I just think it’s sad. But there are many things in the world that are thought-provoking.”

Akanji also looked ahead to the upcoming Euro 2020 fixtures next summer, where his Switzerland side will open their campaign against Wales in Baku. They will then take on Italy in Rome, before returning to Azerbaijan to face Turkey. 

“This is a very good group and Italy will be favourites after 10 wins in qualifying,” said Akanji. “But we have very good chances to progress, which is our clear aspiration.

“It is certainly not optimal. But it does not matter to me, we have to play the games and win. Whether in Baku or in London.”

Back home in Germany, Akanji’s Dortmund side moved up to third in the Bundesliga after a 5-0 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday. They now sit five points off leaders Borussia Monchengladbach in what has been an up-and-down campaign for the Swiss defender.

“From my point of view, the season so far has been OK. Of course, the start could have been better,” Akanji said.

“But you know how it was last season. Since we had nine points ahead of Bayern and did not bring anything afterwards. 

“If we do it the other way round and turn it up in the second half, nobody will mind. And I remain optimistic that this will happen and we will give everything until the end.”

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